Bryan Bisson bought his two-bedroom, 3-1/2-bath condo in the former Ashanti Ballroom at 16th and Alabama streets two years ago and immediately set about brightening up its tall walls and thick moldings to give it a fresher look.
But the four-story space, part of a building constructed in 1901, didn’t need a complete overhaul. He liked the mix of modern and formal—along with strong wood tones and big windows—that came with a 2006 renovation.
“I just polished it up and made it a little bit more modern instead of completely gutting it,” said Bisson, a hairstylist. “And I think it worked out really, really well.”
Still, Bisson has put the Old Northside Loft condo on the market for $550,000.
It was tough, after all the changes he made. Among the bigger ones: removing a wall, moving the ventless fireplace to a wall opposite the kitchen, adding a full bathroom to the basement and installing a mini-fridge, sink and dishwasher to a bar in a top-floor room that leads onto a wraparound balcony.
Then it was about the decorating—the fun part.
In the living room, which has 15-foot ceilings, Bisson hung a large, gold-tone round chandelier. “I wanted something that was going to take up that space,” he said. “It casts this beautiful light in that whole room. So I love it and I think it’s cool.”
He painted the trim on the panes of the windows black, juxtaposing history with a modern touch.
Then he played with scale, choosing a huge, tufted leather sofa and leaning an 8-foot, arched gold mirror against the wall. “I love cozy. I love comfort. And that couch, you just sink into it,” he said. “You can fit six people on that couch.”
But the side chairs are small, as is an old record player cabinet he converted into a bar. Towering over that piece is a 12-foot plant that is reaching for the sun.
The room is grounded by a red oriental rug that provides the space’s primary color.
“I like the mix of really light, modern spaces with some old oriental rugs,” Bisson said. “I think—in that type of space, if you have really, really bright walls or a modern shade on the wall—you can put some of those big older furniture pieces in, which I love because they all tell stories.”
Bisson made few changes in the kitchen, except to add a library ladder to help him reach the highest spaces, change the glass on the cabinets and add two handmade glass-paned pendants he purchased from a maker in Russia on Etsy.
One floor up is the master and a second bedroom, which belonged to his partner’s younger daughter. Both rooms have round windows, oriental rugs and artwork on the walls. The master is filled with velvet—the headboard, a chair and throw.
“I’m a hairdresser, so I’m around people all day in a mask,” Bisson said. “I want to come home and have some sort of sanctuary and retreat.”
Up one more floor is the room where Bisson installed the fridge to help him entertain without running up and down to the kitchen. A burnt orange loveseat, wall of windows and a forest of plants look out on a wood-planked balcony.
In the basement—where his partner’s elder daughter stayed—Bisson kept the space modern but darker. Gone are the light colors of the upper floors, replaced with a deep navy—on the walls, the trim, the doors and the cabinets. Recessed halogen lights, a gold area rug, and metallic coffee table give the room some glitz.
So why is Bisson selling?
“We were ready to move to an area that has a yard and is a little bit further up north for [the] school system,” Bisson said. “We moved into a house up north that has a swimming pool.”
Sounds like a great situation for the kids—but the elder daughter still misses that basement sanctuary. “She’s really bummed about it,” Bisson said. “And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s give and take.’ But, yeah, that basement is great.”•